VANCOUVER (miningweekly.com) – A 164% spike in vanadium pentoxide (V2O5) prices over the past 12 months has resulted in Canadian producer Largo Resources swinging back into the black for the first three months of 2018, the company reported on Monday.
Based in Toronto, with its flagship Maracás Menchen mine and mill located in Bahia state, Brazil, Largo said on Monday that net profit for the period ended March rose to C$45.8-million, compared with a net loss of C$9.7-million in the comparable first quarter period of 2017.
Profit was mainly driven by a 210% increase in revenues to C$91-million in the period, as the average price of V2O5 rose to about $13.60/lb for the first quarter – up 164% year-over-year compared with an average price of about $5.15/lb for the first quarter of 2017.
Steel production accounts for about 90% of vanadium consumption, and as China is increasing its enforcement of new high-strength rebar standards, this has a positive correlation for vanadium consumption in steel production. In 2017, vanadium held 2% of the energy storage market, but this share is expected to increase to 20% by 2030.
Cash provided before noncash working capital items of C$61.9-million in the first quarter was C$56.8-million higher than the comparable quarter of 2017.
Total output at the mine was 2 214 t of V2O5, a 7% increase over the comparable period of 2017, but 13% lower than in the fourth quarter. The company advised that production was impacted by premature wearing of the cooler refractory, resulting in unexpected production downtime in January and February. However, these problems have been resolved during March and production returned to previous levels, exiting the quarter with production of 863 t of V2O5, the company reported.
Largo noted that high-purity vanadium sales in the first quarter soared 95% to 400 t, up from 205 t in fiscal 2017.
Further, Largo is undertaking a two-pronged exploration campaign at Maracás Menchen this year. The company has started a 2 000 m in-pit campaign to further define the reserve block model for production in the next two to three years.
The second phase will include a ground magnetic survey, mapping and sampling of the concessions north of Novo Amparo Norte. This is about 12 km of strike extension that has not previously been investigated. The goal is to further evaluate the potential for along-strike continuation of the magnetite mineralisation and to maintain the company's concessions. Phase II also includes a 4 950 m drilling programme focused on upgrading and expanding the satellite deposits and high-priority targets located along strike.
The company’s TSX-listed equity gained nearly 11% on Monday to trade at C$1.83 a share.